“Dreams are nature’s answering service – don’t forget to pick up your messages once in a while.” – Sarah Crestinn
Of all the things that affect humans on a near-daily basis, how many remain as mystical as dreaming? The nature and purpose of dreams have been debated since the beginning, and yet, we still have no conclusion or consensus.
In his published essay on Enron (and now in his book What The Dog Saw), Malcolm Gladwell makes reference to National Security expert Greg Treverton’s famous distinction between puzzles and mysteries. Mysteries do not have simple, factual answers. And although puzzles really don’t either, they are by process and intelligence, well, solvable. When the right amount information is found, puzzles can and will eventually be solved. Mysteries on the other hand, “require judgments and the assessment of uncertainty, and the hard part is not that we have too little information but that we have too much.”
Dreams are a mystery. Dreams are not a puzzle. We will not one day realize the complete physiology and meaning of dreams to its fullest extent so that we can close the text book on dreams. They are a mystery and will remain a mystery. Yes, we may continuously add new findings and hypotheses – either through scientific research or epiphanies, but I believe dreams are inherently a mystery. They are not meant to be fully discovered.
That being said, there are plenty of facts out that characterizing dreams and their nature. Here are some:
- We dream on average of one or two hours every night. And we often even have 4-7 dreams in one night.
- One third of our lives is spent sleeping. In our lifetime, we will have spent about 6 years of it dreaming. That is more than 2,100 days spent in a different world.
- Five minutes after the end of the dream, half the content is forgotten. After ten minutes, 90% is lost.
- Dreamers who are awakened right after REM sleep, are able to recall their dreams more vividly than those who slept through the night until morning.
- Men tend to dream more about other men, while women dream equally about men and women.
- Everybody dreams. Simply because you do not remember your dream does not mean that you did not dream.
- If you are snoring, then you cannot be dreaming.
- Studies have shown that our brain waves are more active when we are dreaming than when we are awake.
- Blind people do dream. Whether visual images will appear in their dream depends on whether they where blind at birth or became blind later in life.
- Back in the Roman Era, striking and significant dreams were submitted to the Senate for analysis and interpretation.
- The word dream stems from the Middle English word, dreme which means “joy” and “music”.